"Control freaks won't like this game. If you can't stand the idea of Howe
with 5 units losing to Gates with a single unit because Gates counter-attacked and Howe's enormous hand of Battle Cards doesn't happen to have a
"Double Envelopment" card, then you'll find this game frustrating."
wargamer's review of We
The People posted on Web-Grognards
The first section of this website surveyed the landscape of
contemporary wargaming by identifying the various genres of
wargaming and discussing how individual wargaming genres often
seem to overlap with or derive from other genres. Having
established the basic contours of wargaming today, this section
will discuss ways in which wargames can be analyzed. The ultimate
goal of this analysis should be to improve the quality of
wargames, however "quality" may be defined.
Some words about words
The analysis of wargames is sometimes confused by issues of
terminology. For some professional wargamers (and some hobby
gamers as well) the word "simulation" is often preferable
to the word "game." Also, the terms
"model" and "analysis" are often used
in describing wargames. Though the definitions of these terms are
by no means clearly fixed, it is probably helpful to clarify
terminology a bit at the outset.
Analysis and operational research are used to
describe the science of solving military operational problems.
Military operations research began during the turn of
the century with early pioneers like Clausewitz and Lanchester,
who attempted to represent military conflict using mathematical
models. OR grew into a separate field of study during and after
World War II, when mathematics and statistical analysis were
brought to bear on an increasing number of tactical problems.
Contemporary analysis involves a great deal of "number
crunching" using computer models of military conflict.
Analysis and OR, strictly speaking, do not involve wargaming,
since no human decision-making is required. However, much of
contemporary wargaming is dependent upon computer software or
"rules" which are derived from analytical devices and
A model is a representation of a real
object or system that represents the object or system at some
level of detail beyond mere reference. Generally, models reproduce
the various components and features of the thing represented.
Hence, the word "war" is not a model of war, but a
"toy" tank is a model of a tank. There are various
types of models--verbal models, diagrams, and three-dimensional
models are all examples.
A simulation is generally a more dynamic
model. This dynamic element is created by adding a temporal
dimension to a model. Whereas a model is often static, a
simulation model changes over time. For instance, a tank
simulation may show how a tank performs in a combat situation, how
it sustains damage, or it travels across terrain. Most simulations
are interactive, meaning that they allow viewers to adjust the
simulation and influence its shape.
Using this terminology, wargames are interactive
simulations of war based on models of the various features of war.
While they can be used for analytical purposes, they do not
constitute analysis in themselves.
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Some have suggested that the shift away from "wargames"
toward "simulations" may have been prompted by the movie
(1983). WarGames starred a young Matthew Broderick as
a high school hacker who breaks into a military computer and
during ensuing hijinks succeeds in nearly starting a nuclear
For another take on these terms, see Paul K. Davis & Donald
Blumenthal, The Base of Sand Problem: A White Paper on the State
of Military Combat Modeling 1 (1991).